THE rise of women's football, and its growing presence on our television screens, is among the most important sporting developments of the past decade.

Sadly, for much of the past century, the sport struggled for media exposure, financial support, and even the acceptance, it deserves.

During the First World War, it gained a foothold in the sporting consciousness, as teams sprang up across Britain. Many came out of munitions and other factories where women were employed in their thousands as men joined up to fight.

The National Shell Factory at Uskside, in Newport, had a women's football team. Does anyone have any photos or information?

South Wales Argus:

Newport Ladies AFC 1921: Back row, from left: Unknown; ? Mogford; Millie Morgan; Dolly Johns; Claira Jarvis; Unknown; Mary Clarke; Joe Mincher (trainer). Middle row: ? Griffiths; Florie Griffiths; ? Lewis; Unknown; Unknown; Hetty Clarke. Front row: Unknown; Unknown.

And, as the fascinating photograph (above) shows, a Newport Ladies AFC existed after the war.

The Argus would like to hear from anyone who can shed light on the team pictured, and the women who played in it.

Can you fill in any of the missing names? Was Newport Ladies AFC formed separately to the Uskside team, or was it a continuation, after Uskside ceased being a munitions factory?

Kathryn Wilkins, who kindly supplied the photograph, is the grand-daughter of Dolly Johns, the goalkeeper pictured resplendent in the white jersey.

She went on to marry William Hillman, who worked at Lovell's confectionery factory and played for Lovell's Athletic, its men's team that won the Welsh Cup in 1948 and was a leading non-league club in Wales and the south west of England from shortly after its formation in 1918 until it folded in 1969.

South Wales Argus:

Mr Hillman (above, in the 1923/24 season, when he was captain) helped Lovell's Athletic win many honours during the 1920s and into the 1930s, also earning several Wales amateur caps.

As the photos below show, Lovell's also had a women's team. But was this a regular set-up, or did they just play the occasional match?

South Wales Argus:

The photograph above shows a Lovell's women's team, and appears to have been taken at the club's Rexville ground, probably in the early 1930s.

Again, can you put names to the faces, or spot a distant relative?

The player fifth from the right appears to be Violet Iveson, who is in the photograph below.

South Wales Argus:

This is from a cutting from the Daily Sketch in December 1932, reporting a match involving a Lovell's women's team and Preston Ladies, in front of a crowd of 8,000 at Rodney Parade in Newport.

Preston won 5-0, unsurprisingly perhaps, as a team which also began life at a factory - Dick, Kerr in Preston - had been, and remained for many years, one of the world's foremost women's teams.

Preston's captain (left) - stern-faced in the pre-match handshake with Lovell's skipper Violet Iveson - was Lily Parr, arguably women's football's first global superstar.

A prodigious goalscorer and creator, she was the first woman inducted into English football's Hall of Fame, in 2002, and the first commemorated with a statue, at Manchester's National Football Museum, last year.

What was the reason for this match and was it a one-off for the Lovell's women, or did they play more regularly?

The most likely explanation for Rodney Parade hosting a women's football match in 1932, is that women's teams had been banned from FA member clubs' grounds in 1921.

This was allegedly to 'protect' women, suddenly deemed not physically able to play or withstand the rigours of football, despite having participated enthusiastically for many years.

But the real reason was the popularity of the women's game, which attracted huge crowds during the First World War and afterwards, and which the FA saw as a threat to the men's game.

Like today, some men's teams in Wales played in the English leagues and many more then were members of the FA. So the game could not have been played at Lovell's Rexville ground, or indeed at Newport County's Somerton Park.

If anyone can shed more light on the photographs and/or the Newport women's teams mentioned here, please email